THE OCONEE ENTERPRISE Thursday, June 7, 2012
OCAF Members Exhibit opening is standing room only
BY KATHY RUSSO
Once again, the gallery was packed, as Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation’s annual Members Exhibit opened Friday to a full house. “Charles told me it was standing room only,” Executive Director Joe Ruiz said. Each OCAF member could submit up to three pieces, with at least one accepted for display in the Main Gallery for the show, which will be up through July 20.
Artist Robert Clements and Elaine Carleton were on hand to admire the pieces in the show. “We’re just here enjoying it,” Carleton said. “This is one of our favorites.” “I think we’re all proud to see the great work of our members,” said Margaret Venable, chair of the OCAF board. “The members are so talented. It’s interesting. It creates a pretty eclectic show, and yet it all comes together and looks beautiful.” She gave credit where it was due, as Visual Arts Director Charles Warnock hangs the shows.
“When I think of the hours that Charles puts in, it’s just staggering to me,” said Kie Johnson, OCAF member, at the show before showing off her watercolor piece. Her student Viviane Van Giesen showed off her own work as well, and enthusiastically extolled Johnson’s virtues as a teacher.
Van Giesen’s taken Johnson’s classes at OCAF. “I am her student, and I just love this woman,” Van Giesen gushed as they hugged at the opening. “This woman is the best teacher ever. She taught me everything. She’s awesome.” Van Giesen said Johnson explains the why behind what’s being done to create art. “She makes us think about art. She goes into the technique, the composition, how you do it. She’s encouraging, she’s loving, and sometimes she’s tough, too, when she needs to be.”
Van Giesen is one of the many member artists of OCAF, and has learned through the organization where her piece, “By the Oconee River,” currently hangs as part of the Members Exhibit. “If you want to do watercolor, there’s no better place than coming here,” Van Giesen said. She said her story is an old one. “I was an art major,” Van Giesen said. “Then the last time I painted was when I was pregnant with my first child. So I had three kids, and finally now I want to go back to my love. This is what I love to do. It’s like meditation, because your mind is out of all the problems in the world. “You feel better, and everyone around you is happier because you’re happier.”
Johnson said the show fosters “an appreciation for OCAF and its volunteer force.” She credits community support and individuals like Warnock and Cindy Farley for their dedication of time and energy to the community. “It’s just an amazing facility,” Johnson said of OCAF, encouraging the community to continue its support of such a great program. “It’s amazing.”
As member artists and friends visited and enjoyed the new Members Exhibit show and reception in the Main Gallery, many visited Susan Pelham’s show still up in the Members Gallery. “The Playful Eye” is Pelham’s work influenced by Magic Realism, and the works of Franz Kafka and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
“It doesn’t look like a collage,” one admirer said. “It looks like a painting.” And from Lawrence Stueck’s “Metaphor Mansion” to photographs and a myriad of two- and three-dimensional pieces, nothing seemed to look like what it was. And yet it did.
That’s the beauty of art and of OCAF. OCAF, a non-profit, non-government entity, is supported solely by fundraising and donations. Located at 34 School Street in downtown Watkinsville, it personifies the Artland of Georgia for Oconee County and outlying areas.
Cindy Lou Farley’s “Carlotta” presides over a portion of the Main Gallery during the Members Exhibit now on display at OCAF. [Photo by Kathy Russo] “Lilacs” by Charles Warnock springs to life on the wall of the Main Gallery at Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation.